Woodlawn's rally produces MTC win
Cardinals' catch Grayville late, 58-53 for fourth straight win
WOODLAWN – The Woodlawn Cardinals were coming off of an emotional three-game run to win the Midland Trail Conference Tournament last week and were back to the .500 mark after a tough start of the season.

In other words, they were primed for a let down.

Coaches consider games right after tournaments “trap” games and Coach Brian Gamber and the Cardinals were minutes away from a crushing loss.

Grayville clearly outplayed the hosts for nearly all of the Tuesday night contest and were ahead in the fourth quarter.

But the Bison, who began the game hitting nearly everything they threw towards the basket, cooled down in the final minutes.

The Bison missed their final eight attempts of the game as the Cardinals' rallied.

Woodlawn got past its guests to win in the final moments, 58-53, to improve to 11-10 on the season and 4-2 in the MTC.

After beginning the game hitting from all over the floor, Grayville's offense faltered in the fourth quarter as they fell to 5-11 overall, 2-2 in the league.

Senior forward Kase Robinson led all scorers with 28-points for the Bison and he helped get his team rolling with 12-points in the first quarter.

Teammates Wyatt Hatcher and Grant Leavens ended up with 10 and eight-points for the game.

“The effort was outstanding. I'm really proud of them tonight. We had some of those last shots kind of roll in and out on us. Lingafelter missed a three and Hatcher had a couple of shots underneath that didn't drop for him,” said Coach Hucker. “But that happens sometimes in the fourth quarter. I think in the first half we came out with an intensity I hadn't seen from them in a long time.”

As it turned out, the Cardinals had a more balanced attack with four players ending up with double-figures.

Senior guard Blake Wollerman scored 15-points for Coach Gamber while freshman Blake McKay (14) along with classmate Jordan Hoppa (13) and sophomore Jackson Bennett (10) all added key points in the victory.

Bennett and McKay each hit big 3-point shots in the fourth quarter, triggering a rally that pushed them into the lead and eventually the win.

McKay hit his 3-point bomb to give the Cardinals a 53-51 advantage with just over two minutes left.

After a Hatcher score tied the game at 53-each, the Cardinals defense stiffened and they put away Grayville with from the foul line in the last :49.6.

Bennett and Hoppa closed out the game with four-straight free throws as Woodlawn picked up a much needed conference win.

The Bison had opportunities to get the lead back but couldn't score in the final 1:50 of the game.

Robinson, on one Bison possession in the final seconds, missed three-straight shots and grabbed all three of the rebounds.

But he was called for traveling after the last board with :10.6 remaining, which allowed the Cardinals to inbound the ball and run out the clock.

As the game unfolded, Coach Gamber wasn't happy with his teams' defensive performance on the night as they really never slowed down Robinson and Company.

The 6-foot-3 senior forward, who has over 1,700-points and counting in his prep career at the school, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening moments and Hatcher added an inside move in the paint for an 8-4 early lead.

The Bison nailed their first five field goal attempts and were 8-of-11 in the quarter.

“They (Grayville) played well tonight. I'm disappointed with our first half defensively. Thirty-three points is too many in the first half. We played better but not great in the second half. They hit some tough shots and they have kids that can score. They have some size which makes for a tough matchup for us,” said Coach Gamber. “Their zone obviously bothered us and credit our kids for hitting some shots. But defensively we were not where we needed to be.”

Bennett and Wollerman (twice) connected from the arc as the Cardinals got the lead for the first time at 13-10.

That turnaround was part of seven first half lead changes as it was clear the Bison brought their A-Game to Jefferson County on Tuesday night.

Leavens hit one of his two 3-pointers and then Robinson scored three times on drives to the basket as the quarter ended at 19-17 Grayville.

With another Leavens bomb and baskets by Hatcher and Robinson, Grayville took its biggest lead of the first half at 26-21.

The lead changed hands again with a 9-2 run with a three-point play by senior Blake Ashby and back-to-back bombs by McKay for a 30-28 Cardinals' lead.

Grayville retook the lead with Robinson hitting 3-of-4 foul shots and senior Brandon Rhodes scoring on a drive in the lane for a 33-32 lead at the half.

The upset special nearly came about as the Bison were on the verge of pulling away in the third quarter.

They opened the second half with an 8-2 sprint, getting points from Leavens, Hatcher, Robinson and senior guard Keaton Lingafelter.

Leavens made a steal and scored on a fast break to begin the run and then Lingafelter nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner.

Hatcher scored again in close and Robinson made two more free throws for a 42-34 Bison bulge with 3:17 left.

After Wollerman and Robinson traded long range shots, the Cardinals cut into the spread to end the quarter.

McKay nailed his third 3-pointer and Wollerman picked up a steal and his lay in closed the gap to 45-42 heading home.

Bennett then opened the final frame with a 20-footer to even the score.

The teams traded scores until McKay nailed his fourth bomb to put the Cardinals ahead and also started the scoring run to complete the comeback.

After hitting 4-of-6 from the field to begin the fourth, Grayville couldn't buy a basket in the final minutes.

“Early on he (Robinson) got free too much and our help (defense) was late. For them they got the ball to the kids they needed to but thankfully we were able to hit some shots against their zone,” said Coach Gamber. “The last three or four minutes we contested better. We made it more difficult for them but our defensive rebounding has been a huge issue for us, we are giving up a lot of offensive rebounds. It's an area we have been struggling with.”

Woodlawn survived the scare despite struggling against the Bison's 2-3 zone.

The Cardinals ended up just 20-of-55 (36.3 percent) from the floor and just 9-of-25 from the 3-point arc.

Grayville closed the game shooting a bit better, hitting 21-of-46 overall (45.6 percent) and 6-of-13 from the arc.

“We had a bad one on Wednesday night at Wayne City and our effort lacked a little bit and we got it kind of handed to us,” said Coach Hucker. “But to come out tonight at Woodlawn to give the performance we gave, I'm extremely happy with it.”

Despite being outrebounded by the Bison 33-28, the Cardinals took much better care of the ball.

Coach Gamber's team committed just six turnovers compared to 14-turnovers by Grayville.

Woodlawn will head to Goreville on Saturday night in its next action while Grayville has a pair of games this week coming up, at Christ Our Rock Lutheran on Thursday and hosting Carmi-White County on Saturday.

“We hung in there and got some big stops. Coming off of a big week and a short turnaround we hit some big shots and got the win,” said Coach Gamber. “We've just got to clean up some things.”

Grayville (53) – Davis 0 0 0-0 0, Robinson 7 3 5-8 28, Reeves 0 0 0-0 0, Leavens 1 2 0-0 8, Hatcher 5 0 0-0 10, Rhodes 2 0 0-0 4, Lingafelter 0 1 0-0 3.
2FG-15, 3FG-6, FT-5-8, PF-15.

Woodlawn (58) – Isaac 1 0 1-2 3, Wollerman 3 3 0-0 15, Bennett 1 2 2-2 10, Hoppa 4 0 5-7 13, Ashby 1 0 1-3 3, Spangler 0 0 0-0 0, McKay 1 4 0-0 14.
2FG-21, 3FG-5, FT-7-17, PF-16.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.